As resistant as she was to unwrapping herself from the layers of warmth that kept her from a full body chill, Evangel lifted her hips and untwisted herself from the wool blanket that was her bedroll. Was it her age that kept her faithful bladder active in deep night? She had tried everything. No water after the last meal, piddling before she settled under the eaves of the rock ledge, keeping her head, hands, and feet protected from the cold with woven hand-me-downs from her mother. Still, dreams of stormy seas, flooding fields, and sopping skirts swelled in her.
The boy was a few feet away and would not stir even for near owls and the close mews of the lynx. Evangel didn’t have to step far to squat into relief, careful to spread her feet apart and to aim the puddle in a downhill direction. She hated the splatters of urine that sometimes splashed onto the hems of her pants, loose contraptions that she had sewn with thread unraveled from the tatting that had collared her best dress.
Empty of the last teaspoon of wee, she swept herself upward. The moon’s crescent swung low in the eastern sky. How long had it been since she’d engaged the stars? The higher sky was awash in sparkle, a distant promise of echoes that would never reach her ears. Yet she waited, scanning the expanse for a measure of its aptitude. An effortless glimmer of words assembled in the space behind her eyes. There is nothing to be afraid of. Nothing.
Against the darkness, the words felt holy, a sacramental preface to what could be her future: a threshold from which All That Had Come Before would be swept beyond time and from which All That Would Be could not threaten the corpse of her joy. There is nothing to be afraid of. Nothing. Stars and planets, constellations and dreams, all nocturnal revelations repelled the rancid weakness of fear, the human failing that obliterated so much of what had been intended by the Sacred Yearning Toward the Light.
Evangel moved back into her sleeping space unperturbed by the chilly air. Her coat spread from her shoulders like wings as she closed her eyes and recalled the heavenly patterns of the night. There is nothing to be afraid of. Nothing. She remembered a story that her mother had told her time and again by the light of fire as they repaired their wraps for what always promised to be a harsh winter. The words returned as an echo of her mother’s prayerful voice. Fear not for I am with you. There was more and Evangel remembered. Her mother would stretch over to her. Touch her on the knee. Look straight into her worried eyes and speak words she hadn’t understood until this very moment. Be not dismayed.